China's CO2 emissions will be higher in 2020 than in 2019, says IEA's Birol

FILE PHOTO: International Energy Agency Executive Director Fatih Birol speaks during the "Rome 2015 MED, Mediterranean dialogues" forum in Rome, Italy, December 11, 2015. REUTERS/Max Rossi

OSLO (Reuters) - China’s greenhouse gas emissions will increase in 2020 compared to 2019 as they have rebounded after the COVID-19 outbreak, the head of the International Energy Agency said on Wednesday.

“As of today, Chinese emissions this year, 2020, will be higher than in 2019, they rebounded,” Fatih Birol told a digital energy conference organised by Norwegian oil firm Equinor.

Regarding China’s oil demand, Birol said the IEA expected it to be “slightly higher” this year than it was last year. For gas demand, it would be “much higher” in 2020 compared to 2019.

“We do not see a structural decline in oil demand,” he said.

On the United States, Birol said he expected President-elect Joe Biden to give a “big push” for clean energy innovations, ranging from carbon capture and storage to small nuclear reactors and battery storage.

“The United States rejoining the Paris Agreement would create a tremendous momentum for the fight against climate change,” he said.

Writing by Gwladys Fouche, editing by Terje Solsvik